In the aftermath of Kamlesh Tiwari’s brutal murder by Jihadis, attempts are being made to divert attention from the morbid hatred that’s festering in the hearts of significant sections of the Muslim community to ‘Hindutva bigotry’. A familiar trope that has surfaced during such attempts is that of ‘True Muslims’.
Shahid Siddiqui’s comments are particularly problematic because it appears that the tweet is directed more at non-Muslims than for the different sects within the Muslim community. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that it’s a question that’s of all major intra-Islamic conflicts. Thus, at a time when there’s not even a semblance of unity in belief regarding the question even in the Islamic world, it appears rather discomfiting for a Muslim to pontificate non-Muslims with regards to who a ‘True Muslim’ is.
For instance, the Sunnis don’t consider Shias to be true Muslims. The Shias, in turn, don’t consider Sunnis to be true Muslims. These fundamental differences between the Shias and Sunnis are at the heart of the Middle-East conflict, a war that has been fought not for years or decades but centuries. And it doesn’t appear they are going to stop fighting anytime soon.
Despite their many differences, both of them don’t consider Ahmediyas to be true Muslims. In Pakistan, Ahmediyas are banned by law to address themselves as such and suffer intense persecution for their faith. The Uighurs are certainly not treated as true Muslims as well considering the fact that almost the entirety of the Muslim world is more than willing to prostrate before the Chinese regime. The Ummah could not care less about them.
Then there’s ISIS, the terrorist organization, that believes every Muslim who doesn’t support them isn’t a true Muslim. And they have no compunctions in going to war against all of them. ISIS isn’t the only terrorist organization that holds such beliefs, most of them have similar notions about the ‘True Muslim’ concept.
Then there’s the brand of Shahid Siddiqui, who can be considered to belong to a separate sect in themselves. They believe every follower of Radical Islam is not a ‘True Muslim’. They have significantly more support in the non-Muslim communities than they have in the Muslim world.
One of the misguided notions that such people have managed to peddle is that Radical Islamic Terrorists are responsible for the murder of more Muslims than non-Muslims. They refuse to admit that in the eyes of the terrorists and the people who sympathize with them, the Muslims that are killed are not ‘True Muslims’. Such people fail to take into account the fact that Radical Islamic Terrorists claim to have a monopoly over the term ‘True Muslim’ like they do and justify the slaughter of Muslims worldwide on the basis of three essential arguments.
Firstly, the slaughtered Muslims are not considered ‘True Muslims’ by the terrorists and their sympathizers and are treated as ‘Kaafirs’. Secondly, the ‘True Muslims’ that do die are treated as collateral damage and their deaths are considered unavoidable necessities in the war for Allah. And thirdly, it is argued that ‘True Muslims’ who die in the war for Jihad or sacrifice their lives in its pursuit will receive appropriate rewards in Jannat. Thus, as abhorrent as the Shahid Siddiqui brand of Muslims might consider the slaughter of Muslims by Radical Islamic Terrorists, in the eyes of the terrorists themselves, it’s something that is perfectly justifiable.
The concept of ‘True Muslim’ is at the heart of the problem that has caused the greatest bloodshed within the Muslim world. Therefore, it’s not something that the Shahid Siddiqui brand of Muslims has a monopoly over. Thus, it’s not bigotry when a non-Muslim refuses to consider such people authoritative figures to decide who a ‘True Muslim’ is and who isn’t. It’s not bigotry either for a non-Muslim to treat all such people who pontificate on the ‘True Muslim’ concept with such an air of authority with a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicion, given the fact that the greatest bloodshed in the Muslim world has been unleashed by people who claim to have a monopoly over the term.
More importantly, people like Shahid Siddiqui, if they truly want the best for humanity, should direct such comments towards the Muslim community instead of indulging in public posturing to divert attention from the rampant bigotry that prevails within the Muslim community. And needless to say, it’s not bigotry if people to refuse to buy into the definition of ‘True Muslim’ Shahid Siddiqui is selling because the entire Muslim world has widespread differences on the concept and the question is at the root of the historical bloodshed within the Muslim world.